British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has unveiled the first pillar of her Families First Agenda: Supporting Vulnerable Families. These changes and initiatives will help build a stronger foundation for B.C. families to help them become self-sufficient, she said.
“A good-paying and secure job is one of the most important contributions to a healthy, happy and strong family,” said Clark. “Our government is making balanced changes to remove barriers to employment for people who want to return to the workforce while providing adequate support for those most in need.”
The changes, most of which will come into effect later this year, will help vulnerable families attain better financial outcomes, assist individuals with disabilities lead more independent lives and help people capable of work avoid the cycle of income-assistance dependence.
To improve financial outcomes for vulnerable families, changes include:
•Increasing the school startup supplement so families now receive $100 for every child aged five to 11, and $175 for every child 12 and over.
•Providing access to dental services for children of families on hardship so parents can take their children in for regular dental checkups.
•Exempting income tax refunds so individuals and families on income assistance will be able to keep their full income tax refund.
To assist individuals with disabilities to lead more independent lives, changes include:
•Individuals receiving disability assistance will be able to earn up to $800 per month and still receive their full benefits.
•Providing the flexibility to calculate earnings on an annual basis, rather than monthly, so individuals with disabilities can maximize their earning during times when they are feeling healthy and able to work to an annual total yearly exemption of $9,600.
To help families avoid the cycle of income-assistance dependency, changes include:
•Extending work search requirements for new applicants from three weeks to five weeks.
•Instituting a $200 monthly earnings exemption for all expected-to-work clients, regardless of family size, to give employable individuals a better opportunity to get job skills and experience, take advantage of short-term or temporary work, and better provide for their families while receiving assistance.
•Enhancing employment planning to support people transitioning off income assistance and returning to work.
“These changes strike a balance by providing the supports people need to get back into the workforce, while helping to improve financial outcomes for vulnerable individuals and families,” said Clark.
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